Friday, 15 July 2011

My Monthly Budgeting

A financial services company called thinkbanking is offering a bank account that helps with budgeting. The service isn't free, but it's available to all UK residents aged 18 or over. Perhaps you're wondering why people need help with budgeting? Isn't it something they could do themselves?

The thinkbanking bank accounts are managed, so someone organises your bill payments for you (as long as you have enough money in your account) and you can only spend what is left over. People who can't find the time for budgeting (or just find it difficult) could really benefit from this kind of help.

Alternatively, here's a quick guide to working out your monthly budget yourself.

Working out monthly budgets

People tend to stick to either monthly budgets or weekly budgets, depending on how often they get paid. If you're paid weekly but would prefer to see how your finances work out on a monthly basis, simply multiply your weekly income by 52 (weeks) then divide by 12 (months).

Now you have your monthly take-home income, you need to work out how much money you'll have left after you've paid all your important bills. So list all your essential monthly expenses and how much they cost. 'Essential' can mean different things to different people, but here are ten of the most common ones to get you started:

  • Mortgage/Rent

  • Council Tax

  • Utilities (including water, energy)

  • Telephone

  • Mobile phone

  • Travel costs (including car tax)

  • Insurance premiums (e.g. contents, life, car)

  • TV licence

  • Essential clothing and shoes

  • Broadband

Take the total cost away from your monthly income and whatever amount you are left with is how much you have available to spend on non-essentials that month.

If you don't have any money left over after accounting for your essential costs, you'd probably benefit from some financial advice - and if you don't even have enough to cover all your essentials, you need to address this as soon as possible.

Frugal for the future

If you do have money left over after that, however, it's a sensible idea to put some of that money into savings or invest it for the future, leaving you with a sum that you can spend on something fun to do with the kids - or even treating yourself!

If you're really frugal you might be able to put a lot more into savings. We never know when we'll need a little extra cash to fall back on.

Also, remember that you're likely to spend more at certain times of the year - birthdays and holidays are good examples. If you're frugal and manage to put some money away, you'll appreciate it much more when those expensive times finally come around!